Crain's Detroit Business: Jeff Stoltman on MBA program adaptations

As the “glory days” of widespread, generalist master of business administration degrees fizzle out, Michigan universities are finding new ways to attract students across the globe. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some universities saw a decrease in graduate business program enrollment, which could be attributed to health concerns or deferrals for international students. Fall 2022 data shows a rebound to pre-pandemic numbers for some universities in the region. For others, the slump continues. While colleges in Michigan have offered numerous options for how to earn an MBA, from fully virtual to in person, the question of why has changed over the last couple of decades. Over the years, accrediting bodies and business colleges have shifted focus as the world evolves, said Jeff Stoltman, director of entrepreneurship and innovation programs at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business. With the collision of the digital revolution and societal shift, entrepreneurial academics are facing another moment of “soul-searching criticism,” Stoltman said. Wayne State faculty approved some revisions to the MBA program on Sept. 30, Stoltman said, adding new courses in supply chain and emerging technology issues, which reflect the growth of the digital economy. As a Detroit university, Wayne State has responded to the auto giants by way of building a strong supply chain program. Over the last few years, Wayne State has offered courses in varying lengths and formats, from four-week classes to weekend classes, and asynchronous, synchronous, hybrid and in-person formats. Most of the MBA students are part-time, so the university has worked to offer a variety of schedules to accommodate working students.

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